Oz ($6.99) by ArseyBee Productions beautifully marries that vintage look and feel of those storybooks we grew to love as children with interactive modern technology. You will almost forget you are reading this classic tale on an iPad except for the occasional “roar” from the Cowardly Lion, or an appropriately-placed, interactive animation on an illustrated page.
Oz is 112 digital pages of the storytelling genius of L. Frank Baum. Many digital storybooks for the iPad overdo the interaction and so the app becomes less about reading and more about your child touching every inch of the screen to find out what else will pop up or make a funny noise. Oz, however, preserves the integrity of the story by keeping those distractions to a minimum while still remaining visually stunning. As each section of the book passes, the colors of the pages change. Every 5 or so pages you’ll hear a sound effect that matches the illustration, or have the opportunity to “play” with something (put the Tin Man back together, or stuff the Scare Crow with hay, etc).
It’s not a short book, so if you need to stop reading at any time, you can easily jump back to any section of the story.
This version of Oz can be the perfect bedtime story companion for you and your kids – they won’t be climbing all over you to get to the screen. I find myself fighting to keep my iPad to myself if my children see an app is highly interactive and any possibility of just reading to them becomes slim. I also really enjoy the vintage feel this has to it – it makes me feel like I’m reading a magical book from a library that existed long ago. Maybe I’m old fashioned, but I like that it feels that way.
There weren’t many “cons” that came to mind when I was exploring this wonderful digital storybook. I guess it might be nice to have the option of an original, gentle soundtrack playing in the background.
If you like a good story, and have an affection for the original Oz books, you will appreciate this version of the story – brought to new life while maintaining the look and feel L. Frank Baum created it to have.